Although Anya Anastasia spends a large part of 'Torte e Mort' in character as the “completely mentally unstable” ghost of Marie Antoinette, she feels the satirical work resonates powerfully with modern concerns.
Her cabaret performance shows that the hubris of the doomed duchess is frighteningly close to the 'lack of empathy' shown by our own leadership. That doesn’t mean that Anya had no appreciation for the obscene opulence that would lead one to cry, 'Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!' [let them eat cake]. “Everyone likes to live in an incredibly indulgent and over the top way, completely without consequence. It’s such an exciting and fun way to be, however, I'm also looking, not so subtly, at the consequences of that.” Anya is keen not to be overly preachy. “It's more about inviting people to take a look at everything, rather than saying 'this is ridiculous, this is how you should be'. It's more like 'this is all ridiculous, let's laugh at it'.”© Kate Pardey Photography
No stranger to such laughter, her previous performances have all featured a strong element of black comedy, and 'Torte e Mort' is no exception. “I guess I just have a macabre imagination, it's what I was born with.” Times of tragedy, she argues, are “when we need to laugh the most. I love puns as well, and I love slapstick, but what really fascinates and delights me, is when we can see the light in the darkest times.”
Anya was strongly attracted to the intimacy of cabaret, a medium “with no formal barrier between what's on stage, and who's watching. It feels live, it feels like you're a part of what's happening.” Her previous shows, like 'The Upside Down Girl', have taken advantage of this intimacy. 'Torte e Morte' is different, as she plays multiple characters, but Anya still feels close to the audience.© Kate Pardey Photography
“It's the furthest removed from myself. I’ve worked with some amazing directors to develop the characters, to be really something of their own, and they're so different from each other, it is quite hard to imagine that they're all true of myself. But I think that's the whole idea of an alter ego, it’s an amplified version of an extreme part of yourself. Presenting those extremes, I think you still hit on stuff that everyone can identify with, but in a way that's easier to laugh at.© Kate Pardey Photography
“In my performance, I work with a lot of musical comedy, but I also bring different performance art aspects, contortion, burlesque, strong visuals, all to help the story evolve and unfold. So it's not just a scripted storyline, it's got all this variety.” Of course, with this variety come technical challenges. “I'm an extremely visual thinker, it comes with this fearlessness. If I think of something I'm going to do it. I'll imagine the most ludicrously impractical outfit, visually exactly what I want. But then to create them, I need to go and speak to engineers and ask 'how's this going to stay on top of my head without causing serious injury?' It's a long process of trial and error.”© Kate Pardey Photography
Anya hopes to inform her audience as she entertains them. “This one in particular is about the environmental theme. It’s about celebrating those extremes, the things that we love, which so often happens in cabaret, it's all about pleasure and drinking and all of this fun stuff. But what I'm threading through is the message that we all leave the planet, there's no way around it, we should try to leave it better than we found it. We're only here for a short amount of time, what do we want to leave behind?”'Torte e Mort: Songs Of Cake And Death' performs the Royal Croquet Club 12-21 February as part of Adelaide Fringe Festival which runs 12 February – 14 March.